Have you heard about the TLC reality show Extreme Couponing? I saw it a couple months ago – and actually turned it off because I was so disgusted. My husband heard my rants. A rerun was on this past weekend and in the name of research, I sat down to watch it again so I could share my thoughts with you.
Extreme Couponing follows four extreme couponers as they shop at the store. It showed their stockpiles and interviewed them about their coupon philosophies. Here’s a breakdown of their trips.
Joyce – Retail Value $230.28 – Paid $6.32 (94% savings)
Amanda – Retail Value $11,75.33 – Paid $51.67 (98% savings)
Joanie – Retail Value $638.64 – Paid $2.64 (98% savings)
Nathan – Retail Value $5743.00 – Paid $241 (95% savings)
I don’t want to buy 200 boxes of pasta, 300 toothbrushes or 150 candy bars all at once. I don’t want to spend over six hours shopping at the store and waiting in checkout lines. I don’t want to miss out on quality time with my husband because I’m addicted to finding coupon deals.
While I was turned off (both times I viewed the show) by the hoarding aspect I witnessed in some of these shoppers, I was glad I made it to the end, the second time around. If you can look past the obsessive elements, there were a few good points that everyone can take away.
Joanie reminded everyone that sales go in cycles. Generally, good deals come around every 3 months. This was one of the best things I learned when I began couponing years ago. If you miss a deal this time, it will come back around. Joanie was also very good at organizing her stockpile and rotating it by expiration dates. That’s very important with perishables!
Joyce said to only buy what you need. I definitely agree with this. Unless you are buying a product to donate somewhere, don’t buy it if you are not going to use it. I question whether it was really true for her because all of Joyce’s counters appeared to be covered with excess products.
Nathan was one of the biggest couponers of all, paying down $17,000 in credit card debt and two cars, while now focusing on student loans. This is a great reason to use coupons. Use coupons to save money on one thing so you can pay off money on others!
To shop effectively with coupons, and to build a stockpile, all of the couponers agreed that you must have a strategy and a plan.
Now, some of you may be wondering, what is the value of a stockpile? To most of us regular couponers, a stockpile means having a 3 to 6 month supply of the things we use regularly. Consider it an emergency fund of food and household supplies.
A stockpile allows you to have confidence of knowing that you don’t have to pay full price for the things you regularly use. It helps you when those tights weeks or months come (as they often seem to), as you don’t have to go to the store. You can save money by not shopping and eating from your stockpile. This is one way of planning ahead for tough times.
Here is my biggest issue with extreme couponing. I believe it is selfish to hoard items that one will not use. What good does it do to have hundreds of bottles of body wash in my garage? What good does it do me to have so much excess? Why should we hold onto things with our tight hands when there are so many in need?
Using coupons for free products is great, but then I believe you can and should share what you have gotten. I love that I can (and do) regularly give items to friends and family, as well as our Seminary food bank, because of my coupons. I don’t want to hold on to more than we need.
With such a large stockpile – filling rooms or garages – as they showed on the television show, how can one use all these items before they expire? While I believe it can be good to have 3 to 6 months of items in ones’ stockpile, I would be cautious to have any more than that.
There are very few items that I believe you can stockpile as much as you want. Here’s my list of items that don’t expire and you can stockpile as you choose, particularly if they are free. I stockpile toilet paper, diapers (if you have kids or are soon planning to have kids), cleaning supplies, dish detergent, laundry supplies, feminine products, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. If these items are free, I will stockpile them as reasonable. (Side note…I think we should talk more about stockpiles in the future. Do you agree?)
Yes, I said reasonable and yes, I know that reasonable has different conations for every one. That said, the most I have of any one item is 9 bottles of free dish detergent (thanks to coupons at CVS sales). I’m obviously not an extreme couponer as the show portrays. I would never cover an entire wall with one product. To me, that is not reasonable. Once again, why should I keep so much for myself when there are others who could benefit from using them?
I believe that God has called us to be good stewards and I also believe that He has called us to share the blessings he gives us.
The more you learn about coupons, the more you can share. My take-away from the show is this. I will never become an extreme couponer. I don’t want to be one. Yet, I was encouraged to see attention given to the fact that coupons can and do save people money . That is why I began this website. I want to help people save money and live within their means. I believe we can all do so.
The lesson I am choosing to take away from the show is this. Keep using coupons. Keep saving money. Keep sharing your blessings.
Thoughts? Reactions? Have you seen the show? Do you want to? What are you opinions on extreme couponing? I’d love to hear your feedback!